Lately I've been thinking a lot about guilt and trying to stop the "guilt voices" from filling up my head.
Just for example, last month was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It's supposed to be a day to honor Dr. King and his legacy, work to improve our community by having a "day on, not a day off." There were a ton of community service projects happening around town. I had the day off, and while I would've loved to have participated in a community service project, it's just not easy with a non-mobile infant who is still dependent on you for food and doesn't have a completely regular nap schedule. I looked into some projects but none either fit a long enough timeframe between nursing or napping. So I didn't end up volunteering and my "volunteering sabbatical" continues.
I've been very involved with volunteerism in the past, having both supervised volunteers and participated as a volunteer. I miss it a lot because it fulfilled me in a way that nothing else can, not even parenthood. I'm really looking forward to bringing Radha along with me on future volunteer projects, teaching her the meaning of volunteerism, and creating change for the community good. But the guilt voice inside my head still said, "If you really wanted to, you could've found a volunteer project and gotten involved!"
The lack of volunteering is just one example though. In the past few months I've recognized how the parental guilt is so pervasive. It seems like even the most simple of activities and issues (eating, clothing, playtime) end up creating some feelings of guilt. Books, blogs, magazines, and conversations with other parents are so helpful, but yet they're also a double-edged sword. It seems like so many topics of discussion turn into talk about consuming the "right" product or doing the "right" activity. From cloth diapering to non-plastic toys to vaccinations to organic homemade baby food to music/swim/baby yoga lessons...where does the "have/have not" or "do/do not" conversations end?? This book addresses some of the consumerism/guilt-based marketing to parents topics, but it doesn't really address enough of the relational and social guilt that happens between parent-to-other-parents, parenting groups, online parenting communities, and other parenting-related social networks.
Don't get me wrong; I like sharing and engaging with other parents. The social and emotional support is tremendously valuable. I can't, and wouldn't want to, raise Radha in a bubble. I guess I just need to figure out how to stop listening to the guilt voices and focus on raising this amazing girl the best way I know how and enjoy the moment. The world will forever need volunteers for some cause or another, but your child only grows up once.